"When my servants asks you about me, then (say to them) verily I am near. I answer the prayer of supplicant when he beseeches me". (2:186)
Many verses in the Quran stress on dua, and explain the value of dua. Also, there are numerous Ahadith (traditions) of the Prophet (saww) and Imams (as), which stress on the importance of dua in the life of a believer. Allah openly invites a man to invocate. "And says your Lord: ‘Call to me, I will answer you". (40:60)
The Prophet (saww) says: "The best form of worship is Dua". The most laziest man is that who doesn’t remember Allah by his lips or tongue, inspite of being healthy and idle. The Prophet (saww) says: "The most incapable man is the one who neglects dua".
Imam Ali (a.s) says: "The best deed to Allah is Dua".
Imam Muhammad Bakir (a.s) says : "Do not get bored with Dua as it is very highly ranked by Allah".
Imam Jaffer Sadiq (a.s ) says : "Increase Dua because it is the key to all mercy and fulfiller of every need".
Few observations about Dua:
(a) Dua is a Link: The biggest benefit of Dua is that it is a kind of link between a man and Allah. Man is in great need to make contact with Allah. This need is present in all spheres of a man’s life. One of these spheres in which he feels this need is his psychological sphere (i.e. his Nafs).
How? What do we mean by Psychological need? A man must have a balance in his nafs. A balance between his feeling weak and his feeling strong. If a man feels weak and sees his nafs weak, in face of difficulties and problems, he will not be able to face life and will crumble. At the same time, if a man is full of courage, then this leads him to be proud. So there must be a balance in the Nafs of a Person.
How and when can you get this balance? It can be obtained when you link yourself with Allah and get into contact with Allah (swt). Dua gives a man strength when he feels weak, because such a man sees that all the troubles and all the forces against him are nothing compared to Allah and His strengh. But at the same time he doesn’t get proud, because he who remembers Allah and His position, will feel weak and disgraced when he compares Allah’s strength with his own.
For example, if you are in contact with a King or a ruler, you have confidence that he will help you, since he has strength, and at the same time when you compare his strength with your own, you won’t be proud. Thus Dua gives you confidence, and at the same time prevents you from being proud. That is why a great many Duas stress on this, i.e. they talk of the greatness of Allah, and remind man of his weakness compared to Allah (swt).
"O Allah! I ask you by Your mercy that encompasses everything. O Allah! You are strong and I am weak"
(b) Dua is a Weapon: It is essential that a man recites Dua at all times, especially in this era. I think that the need is greater today, because we are living in dangerous conditions. Today can be compared to the battle of Khandaq where Kufr could have defeated Islam and falsehood could have won against truth. Today everywhere Muslims are suffering. In Iraq and in Palestine, massacres are taking place. In the Israeli prisons, severe tortures to Muslim Mujahids is norm of the day. In the face of all this, we must recite dua constantly.
Of course, we must act too. In Hadith – "A prayer of supplicant without action is same as an arrow without a string". But action without Allah’s help is also of no use. Our enemies have the strongest of weapons, while we are weak and disunited. We don’t possess even one quarter of technology they have. So how can we confront them? ‘Dua plus Action’ shall help us. Dua not only can uplift us spiritually, but is gives us strength as well.
As the Prophet (saww) said: "Dua is a Mumin’s weapon".
(c) Beseech Allah for everything and on everytime: One other observation is that we should beseech Allah’s help to all our serious and trivial problems. It is true that a man should ask Allah for everything, even for the salt of his table, but important things come first. Our Prophets asked for victory, asked for truth to win. The followers of Nabi Musa (a.s) used to ask for steadfastness, and patience against troubles. Everybody should ask for Islam’s victory. Dua should go with the times, and many Ulamas say that Dua is not that which is written in books only, but a man is allowed to pray the way he wants.
Dua is a contact with Allah, so make the contact the way you feel best. Of course, the Duas of our Imams (a.s) are more comprehensive and effective, but making contact yourself with your own words and thoughts is allowed too. Express your inner feelings to Allah. Our Imams would pray for social conditions and political conditions that they lived in. Imam Ali (a.s) would pray against Moawiya and Amr Ibn Aas. Imam Hussein (as) prayed against the army of Bani Ummaya on the day of Ashura. We must in this time pray for our Mujahids in the prisoners, for the Ulemas, and for the victory of the Islam. If the Dua in books doesn’t express what you feel, go ahead and express your feelings from the bottom of your heart.
Pray to Allah on every occasion : happy or sad. Quran says: "And when touches a man (an) affliction, he cries to Us, but when we remove from him his affliction, he passes on as though he had not called to us (on account of the affliction which did touch him)".
Allah brings problems so that we may establish contact with Him, but some people even don’t do this, even if they are faced by problems.
(d) Dua with Jama’ah: Dua of a congregation (Jama’ah) is better than an individual’s dua. The people should get used to praying together. Dua Komail, Dua Nudbah, Dua Tawassul, etc. should be prayed in congregation. The christians have a good habit of praying together when faced with difficulty.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says: "If 40 people gather together and pray, Allah shall certainly accept at least one man’s dua". Some people in the congregation may be good and sincere, and because of them, dua of all the rest shall be accepted.
(e) Understand the meaning of what you recite in Dua : Reciting Duas taught to us by our beloved Prophet and Imams (as) without understanding their meaning, makes it loose most of its significance and benefits. Then it is little surprise we hardly feel its effect on us or its benefit in our life.